In a time even before the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Sheev Palpatine used the Force to artificially impregnate Shmi Skywalker with a baby that became Anakin Skywalker. As a result, she went from being a nobody and a slave to one of the most important people in galactic history. For anyone wondering how The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams might explain Rey’s origins as someone special without retconning The Last Jedi, look no further than this important precedent.
This is the Skywalker Saga after all, and all Palpatines are Skywalkers (and vice versa), in a sense.
Potential spoilers follow for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
In recent interviews, Abrams has implied he won’t retcon The Last Jedi’s reveal that Rey’s parents were “filthy junk traders” and that she’s a “nobody.” But all sorts of leaks indicate that she’s Palpatine’s granddaughter. Placing her within a Force-sensitive family tree would might seem like an all-out retcon of The Last Jedi, but the only way that The Rise of Skywalker can do both of these things is obvious:
Rey parents are nobodies because Palpatine created Rey the same way he created Anakin.
Some interesting Episode IX details purported as big spoilers by a German Burger King claim two seemingly contradictory things: that Rey is Palpatine’s granddaughter and that Palpatine kills, or at least orders the murders of, Rey’s parents. Why would Palpatine murder his own offspring? Assuming that these spoilers might be true, the most likely explanation is that to Palpatine, Rey’s parents don’t matter. They’re just random nobodies he chose, and Rey’s mother was merely a vessel. It was always about creating Rey, a new person that was strong in the Force.
Unlike the original trilogy, where Palpatine’s goal was total domination of the galaxy, his new goal — according to some other leaks — is to bring Kylo Ren and Rey together so he can siphon off their Force energy and rejuvenate himself. The only way to do this is by creating a kind of “dyad.” In the grand scheme of things, Rey’s parents never mattered to Palpatine and they never mattered to the story. The idea of Rey being a “nobody,” however, still matters a great deal.
In an interview with Slash Film, director Rian Johnson compared the scene from The Last Jedi where Rey descends into the Force cave on Ahch-To to one from the original trilogy where Luke does something similar and finds his own face behind Vader’s mask.
“The idea was if the up top is the light, down underneath is the darkness,” Johnson said. “And she descends down into there and has to see, just like Luke did in the cave, her greatest fear. And her greatest fear is [that], in the search for identity, she has nobody but herself to rely on.”
From a narrative standpoint, this lesson would still remain even if Rey was established as Palpatine’s granddaughter. If the title “Rise of Skywalker” does refer to Rey establishing the title of “Skywalker” as a new Jedi alternative, then Episode IX will probably involve Rey grappling with all of these external influences trying to define or control her, only for her to define herself on her own terms.
She’s not actually a Skywalker, but if she were created in the same exact way, what’s the difference?
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be released in theaters December 20, 2019.